Microsoft's Surface Computer Revolution

Microsoft is unveiling a new computer technology on Wednesday, the Surface Computer. Itis a horizontal, table-sized touch screen that allows the user to use hand gestures to manipulate objects. Microsoft believes this kind of system will become pervasive in just a few years.

Imagine a table top thatis a giant version of the iPhone screen. One can browse or move files by dragging a finger.

Microsoft Surface Computer

The screen has a set of cameras underneath that sense where itis touched. Several people can work together at once. Just place a digital camera with a WiFi link on the surface, and the pictures appear on the desktop, scattered as if theyid been thrown there. Rearrage with a finger. No more mice.

This is not something thatis years away. Microsoft is planning to place operational units Harrah?s Entertainment Inc., Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. and T-Mobile USA Inc. The price for a 30-inch system with Vista: under US$10,000.

"Consumers now have an entirely new way to get the information they need, turning their everyday tasks into enjoyable and engaging experiences," said Pete Thompson, general manager of Microsoft Surface Computing. "There are hundreds of thousands of restaurants, hotels and retail locations that are looking to give their customers the unique and memorable experiences that Surface will provide. In turn, companies have a new opportunity for generating additional revenue streams and increasing retail traffic."

Right now, Microsoft sees these kinds of displays in a business environment. Hotel displays, point of sales displays, and business meetings where people can huddle around and work on a project together. As for homes, the units are still a little expensive for that, and there arenit any personal applications.

That will likely change quickly.